Religious unrest flares-up in Myanmar

2013-05-28 21:22
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Yangon - New sectarian violence flared on Tuesday in north-eastern Myanmar, with a mob burning some shops after unconfirmed rumours spread that a Muslim man had set fire to a Buddhist woman.

A politician in Lashio in Shan state, Sai Myint Maung, said authorities banned gatherings of more than five people, after about 150 gathered outside a police station demanding that the alleged culprit - who reportedly dowsed the woman with petrol and set her alight - be handed over.

He said the mob also burnt some stores.

Another resident, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, confirmed by phone that some shops were burnt near the police station and the hospital where the victim was said to have been taken.

Another resident, Than Htay, said he could see smoke and had heard about the ban on gatherings. He said calm had been restored.

Police could not immediately be reached for comment.

Stopping the spread of sectarian violence has proven a major challenge for Thein Sein's government since it erupted in western Rakhine state last year, when clashes between Buddhist and Muslims left hundreds dead and drove about 140 000, mostly Muslims, from their homes.

The violence had seemed confined to that region, but in late March, similar Buddhist-led violence swept the town of Meikthila in central Myanmar, killing at least 43 people.

Several other towns in central Myanmar experienced less deadly violence, mostly involving the torching of shops and mosques.

Muslims account for about 4% of the nation's roughly 60 million people.

It is politically risky to speak out on their behalf because anti-Muslim sentiment is closely tied to nationalism and the dominant Buddhist religion.

Read more on:    thein sein  |  myanmar  |  religion

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